Could You Describe a Difficult Problem and How You Dealt With it?

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Customer question on describing a difficult problem to an interviewer and how to answer it

I always get stuck on this questions and it has been a while since my last interview.  “Can you describe a difficult problem and how you dealt with it?”

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Don’s answer to describing a difficult problem and how you dealt with it.

This question comes in other forms like:

  1. What is the most difficult situation you have faced?
  2. Could you describe a difficult problem and how you dealt with it?

This question is sure to come up and though the interviewer asked how you dealt or solved the problem, he really wants to hear how you worked with a team of people to solve a problem. This is a problem solving question that tests your critical thinking skills and is looking for two pieces of information: Your definition of difficult and how you handled the situation.

This is a great question for showing that you are creative and capable problem solver. You should have at least one of these stories ready to go that will make you look good (it’s okay to brag a little in an interview), but having a few of them will allow you to further expand on the question. Try to avoid co-worker related problems unless you had to fire someone.

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The interviewer does not want to hear how you fixed a light bulb or un-jammed the copy machine. A good team player example is the best way to answer this question.

Best answer to describing a difficult problem and how you dealt with it

Your story should be one which puts you in a tough position where you analyzed and discussed the problem, reached a conclusion, and that you came out on top and it was a win-win situation for the company.

  1. Look back to a problem that you were faced with.
  2. Define the problem, the expected outcome, and possible solutions.
  3. Then talk about the people you had to work with and what was expected of them and the how you tied it all together to reach your goal.

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Don’t feel bad if you were not the superstar in the real life problem, but for the purpose of answering this question to the interviewer, cast yourself in the spotlight and talk like you were the star.

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